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Rob Manfred seems pretty gung-ho about legalizing sports gambling

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Rob Manfred was at a business summit put on by Yahoo yesterday when the topic of legalized sports gambling came up. Baseball’s commissioner had this to say:

“There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting,” Manfred said. “We are reexamining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing with the owners.”

He went on, in his typical Manfredian way, of clearly signaling his views on the matter in a manner that might allow him to later say he has no set opinion. The upshot, though: everyone’s gambling already, so isn’t it better if it was legalized and regulated? One might surmise that he, like other sports executives like NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has signaled his eagerness for legalized sports gambling, are also wondering how they could get a piece of that sweet, sweet action, but I suppose that’s a separate discussion.

Major League Baseball’s views have certainly evolved over the years in this regard. In 2012, Major League Baseball — then led by Bud Selig — sued in an effort to block legalized sports wagering in New Jersey, saying it would raise doubts about the integrity of the game. I guess they got all of that sorted out in the past five years.

I tend to think Manfred is right that people are gambling anyway, so why not bring some of it into the light. I’m not personally a gambler and, though many people gamble responsibly and get enjoyment out of it, I tend to think that gambling has a negative net impact on society. Prohibitions, however, tend to be self-defeating and ineffective. Better to regulate a potentially harmful activity in a manner that discourages it than to engage in the folly of thinking people won’t do it if you make it illegal across the board.

As for the baseball-specific angle: the harm of players throwing games like the 1919 White Sox is far less now than it once was given the lower financial incentives in play. Players make a lot more money now and the cost of getting them to risk their careers and integrity over a ballgame or seven seems pretty prohibitive. I’d be more worried about umpires, managers and coaches and, if sports gambling was legalized everywhere, I would hope MLB would be sure to increase its scrutiny of its people’s activities in this regard.

As for baseball gambling in general: have fun, everyone, but know that anyone who bets on a single game or even a single series needs to have their head examined. Baseball is way too random for that.

Fans allowed at NLCS, World Series in Texas

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Fans can take themselves out to the ball game for the first time this season during the NL Championship Series and World Series at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Major League Baseball said Wednesday that about 11,500 tickets will be available for each game. That is about 28% of the 40,518-capacity, retractable-roof stadium of the Texas Rangers, which opened this year adjacent to old Globe Life Park, the team’s open-air home from 1994 through 2019.

The World Series is being played at a neutral site for the first time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be played at one stadium for the first time since the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Browns at Sportsman’s Park in 1944.

Some of the seats will be included in presales for Texas Rangers season ticket holders on Friday and subscribers on Monday, and others are set aside for MLB and players.

Tickets are priced at $40-250 for the NLCS and $75-450 for the World Series, and 10,550 seats in the regular sections of the ballpark and 950 in suites will be sold in “pods” of four contiguous seats.

Each pod will be distanced by at least 6 feet and a checkerboard pattern will be used, with alternating rows of seats in the middle or rows and at the ends. Unsold seats will be tied back.

No seats will be sold in the first six rows within 20 feet of the field, dugouts or bullpen. Fans will not be allowed to the lowest level, which is reserved for MLB’s tier one personnel, such as players and managers.

Masks are mandatory for fans except while they are eating or drinking at their ticketed seats. Concessions and parking will be cashless, and the team’s concessionaire, Delaware North, is planning wrapped items.

The NLCS is scheduled on seven straight days from Oct. 12-18 and the World Series from Oct. 20-28, with traditional off days between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6, if the Series goes that far. The Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series all will be being played at neutral sites because of the coronavirus .pandemic.

MLB played the entire regular season without fans and also the first round of the playoffs with no fans. For the first time since spring training was interrupted on March 12, club employees and player families were allowed to attend games this week.

While Texas is allowing up to 50% capacity at venues, MLB did not anticipate having government permission for fans to attend postseason games at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles or Petco Park in San Diego, where AL playoff games are scheduled.

Globe Life Field has been the site of more than 50 graduations, but the Rangers played their home games in an empty ballpark.

The Rangers will recommend to MLB that the roof be kept open when possible, executive vice president of business operations Rob Matwick said, but the team understands it will be closed in the event of rain. Matwick said MLB made the decision not to sell seats for the Division Series.

Other than 1944, the only times the World Series was held at one site came in 1921 and 1922, when the New York Giants and Yankees both played home games at the Polo Grounds. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923.